Prestigious Brits and Dynamic Americans: Dutch EFL students' language attitudes towards four varieties of British and American English

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In an attempt to revive the experimental investigation of language attitudes, this thesis employs methodologically innovative elicitation techniques to extract language attitudes with respect to four varieties of English: Received Pronunciation, General American, non-standard British English and non-standard American English. 46 well-educated students who speak English as a foreign language took part in a speaker-evaluation experiment and were asked to determine to which extent they associated 8 speech samples (2 for each of the investigated varieties) with pictographic representations of either Superiority (conservative prestige), Dynamism (modern prestige) or Personal Integrity (all well-known dimensions along which language attitudes vary). As expected, all varieties of American English were deemed more Dynamic, whereas varieties of British English were regarded as more superior. Crucially, non-standard British English was upgraded in terms of Integrity whilst non-standard American English was slightly downgraded when compared to their standard counterparts. This study has obvious implications for educational policies pertaining to the preferred variety of English to be used in L2-contexts: while British English is currently the only advocated variety in the Netherlands, a larger focus on linguistic diversity is a key issue.
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